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Endocrinology. 2008 Jun;149(6):2877-87. doi: 10.1210/en.2007-1633. Epub 2008 Mar 13.

Prokineticin 1 signaling and gene regulation in early human pregnancy.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, United Kingdom.


Prokineticin 1 (PROK1) is a recently described protein with a wide range of functions including tissue-specific angiogenesis, modulation of inflammatory responses, and regulation of hematopoiesis. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of PROK1 and prokineticin receptor 1 (PROKR1) in human endometrium during early pregnancy. PROK1 and PROKR1 expression is significantly elevated in first-trimester decidua, compared with nonpregnant endometrium. Expression of PROK1 and PROKR1 was localized in glandular epithelial and various cellular compartments within the stroma. To investigate the signaling pathways and target genes activated by PROK1, we generated an endometrial epithelial cell line stably expressing PROKR1 (Ishikawa PROKR1 cells). PROK1-PROKR1 interaction induced inositol phosphate mobilization and sequential phosphorylation of c-Src, epidermal growth factor receptor, and ERK 1/2. Gene microarray analysis on RNA extracted from Ishikawa PROKR1 cells treated with 40 nm PROK1 for 8 h revealed 49 genes to be differentially regulated. A number of these genes, including cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, leukemia inhibitory factor, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-11 are regulated in the endometrium during implantation and early pregnancy. We subsequently investigated the effect of PROK1 on expression of COX-2 in Ishikawa PROKR1 cells and first-trimester decidua. COX-2 mRNA and protein expression, and prostaglandin synthesis, were elevated in response to treatment with PROK1. Moreover, expression of COX-2 by PROK1 was dependent on activation of the Gq-phospholipase C-beta-cSrc-epidermal growth factor receptor-MAPK/ERK kinase pathway. These data demonstrate that PROK1 and PROKR1 expression is elevated in human decidua during early pregnancy and that PROK1-PROKR1 interaction regulates expression of a host of implantation-related genes.

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